Spring training is finally here and it’s time to strap up your batting gloves and pine tar your bats because it’s Baseball Season for MLB 2K10. In their 10th year, 2K Sports revamped their fielding system and improved on their pitching mechanics then they previously used in MLB 2K9 only keeping the “hold and gesture” for pitching accuracy and quality of pitches. Developed by Visual Concepts, a new hitting system called Total Control Hitting is used flicking the right analog stick. This means your swing controls become more timed than ever. For the first time, you’ll be able to create your own ball player in the “My Player” mode and groom yourself into a future first ballot Hall of Famer making your way up through your farm team of choice. The noticeable enhancements from MLB 2K 9 are great. But should you draft MLB2k 10 and let it try out for you?
Total Control Pitching. I’ve always questioned precise timed pitches. The ones where you press a button to start your power meter then again for your release. I applaud MLB 2K10 for creating this new style of pitching because it works. It’s called Total Control Pitching (TCP). Throwing a fastball this year is easier and fun. Pulling your right analog stick down then flicking it up produces a fastball. Pushing the analog stick to the right then moving it clockwise to the 9 o’clock position creating a “U” shape will throw a slider. You get the picture, move the analog stick similar to how you throw it mimics that type of pitch. You’ll find yourself in a pitching situation where you’ll need some baseball knowledge and when you get yourself out of 2nd and 3rd with two outs, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief. But with rewards there are risks. You won’t cross every pitch over the plate for a strike and that’s when TCP can become challenging. If you do not move your analog stick in accordance with the pitch, the result is a wild pitch. Throw enough of those and your pitcher will get rattled. With Pitch analyzer you’ll be able to view your stick movements on a graphic and that should show you what you did wrong. Another improvement is the Inside Edge scouting system that can help you decide what pitch and where against that batter gives you the advantage. It can slow down the flow of the game, but it is helpful at times. Remember, be sure to visit the mound to improve the pitchers performance and calm him down. Just don’t visit him if you going for the $1 Million, it’s one of the rules.
Batting the cage. While I wasn’t a fan of MLB 2K10 hitting style, it was manageable with three types of swings. Using the analog stick, flicking upwards produces the swing of the batter with a contact swing. Power swings are performed by pulling your analog stick back and flicking it forward at the right time. And last are the defensive swings moving the stick right or left. Defensive swings just prolongs an at bat and it’s a bit annoying since it can fouled off almost any pitch. I hope they fix this. I did enjoy the batting assistance letting me know if I was too early or too late on a swing. Good thing I didn’t hear “good cut” cause every knows that just means you swung and missed and now, embarrassed. Directional hitting is also possible using the left analog stick. Pull it to third with a movement to the left; hit it on the ground with a pull down on the left analog stick.
Graphics could be better. Graphically, MLB 2K 10 is better than 2K 9. But it’s not quite there yet. Jagged lines, empty spaces and hats not sitting correctly on heads all contribute to the OK graphics. The stadiums were scaled correctly and were the best graphics ok MLB 2K10. I visited both Fenway Park and Camden Yards last year and I was impressed with most of the accurate depictions in the game except the Gulf sign behind the green Monster was missing. Advertising or lack there of most likely contributed to that. Come on Gulf! The facial expressions and excitements after a pitch were nice compliments. The copy and paste crowd made for a visual nightmare.
Play with “My Player”. Want to know what it’s like to audition for an MLB Club? MLB 2K 10’s newest feature “My Player” does just that. I created two separate players; a Catcher and Pitcher and of course favored the Pitcher due to the fun factor of staying involved. You first begin your stint in the Minors A, AA or AAA of the desired ball club you choose. I selected to be random and it landed me in the Cubs farm system. My first player, the catcher, was only called on when I selected “Sim to next appearance”. Most of the time, it involved me batting while on offense for 3 or 4 at bats or catching a pop out in foul territory behind the plate. As a Pitcher, you get to experience all the fun. I chose the role of Closer to experience the tight jams over the calmness of starting a game. Challenges will be addressed before every batter you face, and they vary from “Get a first pitch strike” to “Get a groundout”. I failed several times after I induced a double play on the first pitch which to me is a first pitch strike. Your goal is to make it to the Majors and I found that after several successful appearances my MLB call up meter increase and changed from red to blue. After the first season I was called to Spring Training and made the club. I maintained an ERA of 1.79 but had a high WHIP of 1.75 with 36 strikeouts.
MLB Today = Live Play. Playing today’s match ups is now possible thanks to MLB Today. Upon starting the game you’ll see the list of games that are slotted for play today. I couldn’t figure out out to advance the day to the next, but I don’t think that’s possible. Which brings me to the MLB 2K 10 menu. The cumbersome navigation to view game type, options, or even play Home Run Derby games is not fluent. Same when trying to exit a game. They tried too hard by offering the right analog stick as a convenience, but it surely backfired and made looking for things more difficult.
Online Play. At the time of this review, many have complained of the inaccessibility of online play. I was able to login and search for an opponent but did not play a full game to notice any glitching. As a matter of fact, I did not see a problem with the innings I did play.
Comparisons to MLB 10 The Show. See here how MLB 2K 10 matched up against MLB 10 The Show in our Pros / Cons.
Game commentary – adv. MLB 2K 10 – Gary Thorne, Steve Phillips and John Kruk fill up the booth for MLB 2K 10 MLB games. They give accurate and detailed play-by-play calls and keep the game entertaining to listen to.
Graphics – adv. MLB 10 The Show – I’ve mentioned the OK graphics that needs a bit more cleaning up and polishing compared to The Show. Jagged lines for infield grass or waves of people in the stand means MLB 2K 10 still needs work.
Pitching – adv. MLB 2K 10 – By far, Total Control Pitching dominates over The Shows “sweet spot” pitching. Pitches that resemble the arm movement add to the realism and fun factor.
Batting – adv. MLB 10 The Show – Total Control Hitting (default) was not my hitting preference. Much easier to time a pitch pressing a button (precision) than flicking the analog stick.
Crowd/atmosphere – adv. MLB 10 The Show – Sounds of the game have to go to The Show. Realistic enough that when hitting a foul ball, some fans will even fall into the field trying to get themselves a souvenier.
Menu navigation – adv. MLB 10 The Show – The simple things in life are easier and MLB 2K 10’s right stick menu navigator is a deterant. Not only did I forget where things were, but I found myself stuck not knowing to hit “return” or “exit”.
RTTS or My Player – slight adv. “My Player”. In My Player, your goals are relevant to your player’s position. For example, if you’re a pitcher you’re asked to maintain an ERA below 4.50 and WHIP below 1.50. In RTTS you’re asked to improve your hitting, drag bunting etc. Making some goals unattainable complex.
Keyboard typing – push – MLB 2K10 and MLB 10 The Show both disapointed me when it came to typing. On the PS3, MLB 2K 10 does not use the classic PS3 keyboard and does not use a Qwerty keypad. MLB 10 The Show also decided to use their proprietary keyboard which prolonged typing. Both should feature their respective console’s keyboard.
Final Thought: Playing MLB 2K 10 before MLB 10 The Show allowed me to play all the features that MLB 09 The Show boasted last year and were used in this game including “My Player”. Total Control Pitching alone makes this game stand out and propels MLB 2K 10 into the right direction for the baseball game genre. Some in game decision glitches and visual blunders still keep this game far from perfect. It’s a good baseball game for those who like baseball games and know baseball. For 360 fans it’s a must buy. For PS3 fans it’s a good comparison game to compliment MLB 10 The Show.